All You Need is…Work!

Paul McCartney, George Harrison and John Lenno...
Image via Wikipedia

The quintessential piece made famous by John Lennon and the Beatles from their wonderful song, All You Need is Love, was first performed in 1967 to a world completely different from today. Right now, what America needs as much as love, is work.

Lets draw a picture of the overall scheme of things so everyone knows where we sit:

1. America, in 2007 had an unemployment rate of 4.7%. That is the ideal number give or take. It does not take into account a variety of things, particularly minorities whose number could be considerably higher. It is also a number that is considered favorable by the economy. To be safe, double that number and you are more likely to see numbers more closely approaching real unemployment in the nation.

2. Contrast that with now, in 2010, with an average unemployment in the nation hovering at 9.7 to 9.9%. This number also ignores a variety of other elements including the disparity in minority hiring, the under-employment numbers (which talk about people working in jobs that do not help them make their ends meet) and the 99er’s (people who have lost their jobs, and their unemployment benefits because they have been unemployed for 99 weeks, the maximum time allowed for unemployment). And as before, if you double the official number, you are closer to the real numbers for unemployment (around 20%) and if you add the underemployed, you reach almost 28%. This means there are an estimated 11 to 25 million people who are unemployed or underemployed.

3. Hiring is basically flat right now. While there is much ado about the productivity of American businesses, they are boasting profits while they are hiring no new employees. This is not as counter-intuitive as you might think seeing how, by firing employees, they are cutting one of their most expensive line items, employees. The remaining employees of businesses are being super-efficient in order to not lose THEIR jobs. Unfortunately they are doing the work of two or three employees who are no longer with the company, so that level of productivity cannot honestly be expected to last. I would estimate another three months tops before the bottom starts falling out of places that are abusing their workforce in this matter.

US unemployment rate, by county (Dec, 2008)
Image by Cartographer via Flickr

4. I am going to name a few of the forces that put us in this dilemma in no particular order: NAFTA, corporate outsourcing for twenty years, H1-B visas, corporate greed, investment banks, the Federal Reserve, the housing market and its inflationary growth cycles, the tech boom and bust, for that matter, all boom and bust cycles, corporate greed (did I mention that already?), poor education in the educational industrial complex, the prison industrial complex, the legal/judicial-industrial complex, malfeasance on the part of corporations which end up raising their costs, inflation caused by administering to the national debt, wars (all of them, take your pick over the last twenty years) lazy and uninspired Americans, obesity, bad health, overpriced health care and technology in general; did I miss anything? But if I had to pick one, and only one, you might be surprised to know that I would pick technology as the number one force that has displaced more people, permanently from the workforce than any other thing on my very long list. How I arrive at that, well, you will have to wait for a bit…

5. To add another wrinkle in this tapestry, there are two workforces vying for the remaining positions. The first, college graduates, filled with the academic knowledge still in the corner of their mouths fresh from the teat of our hallowed halls of higher education. They have little or no work experience to speak of, but they are willing to work for nothing, mostly because they don’t have anything to maintain. No homes, a rust-bucket that moves if they are unlucky, something overpriced if they are from a family with a little more means. The super-elite, the sons and daughters of the privileged, will of course be taken care of one way or the other, by nepotism, or by trust funds until this tawdry unemployment thing blows over.

Our other workforce is the hoary, veterans of the psychic wars, those sons and daughters of the Baby Boomers who are still in what is today, the primes of their lives, filled with the knowledge of three decades of hard-won experience, time-tested capability and the power of knowing how things work in relationship to whatever their occupation was before they lost their jobs, were laid off, semi-retired, quit, were liquidated or treated as expendable assets. These are the people who built the mega-corporations and industries that cast them aside as detritus when the going got tough. They are viable, intelligent and a damn sight more useful than they are being treated in interviews that tell them they are over the hill and should consider a consultancy as a potential occupation for the next twenty or thirty years.

(done ranting, taking a breath now…) Where were we? These two workforces are vying for the same limited un-natural resource at the moment. Work. But one of them is being overlooked. This cannot be admitted to legally, but the trend is there, especially if you talk to those older workers; and no, I am not talking about the dewy coeds fresh from a college dorm. I am talking about anyone over the age of 45 who is told they are too experienced for a job. I am going to have to tell you that is simply (insert explicative here…)

Technology is to blame for all of our ills. Now that we know who to blame we can simply turn back time to a simpler age and we will all go back to work, happier for the knowledge and experience. Wrong. This genie is out of the bottle and is never going back. So lets see how it happened.

All technology is designed to be labor-saving. The first rock or stick was meant to improve the feeble human physiology and offer an advantage either in combat or in dealing with the environment. Tools made it easier to grind corn or to brain wolves. And each new development improved humanity’s ability to adapt to a new climate. But there was another benefit, unnoticed at first, that men lost work every time a tool improved. In the beginning this was not a serious issue because there was always work to be done, usually far more work than there were people to do that work.

When humanity was nomadic, the work was moving stuff. When the groups grew too large to move, we created agriculture and settled down into groups that farmed and the move to the Agricultural Age was born. This was not a bad deal, we needed lots of people to farm and even with animals, feeding people was still a full time job for many people. Creating towns also created new work, since we were sitting still, we needed homes; we were moving loads, so we needed vehicles. Each development created new opportunities for innovation and new developments and thusly, new jobs. This continued all over the world, different rates, different climates, different technologies suited to a people and a biome.

Then the Industrial Age came. The age of the machine, where the idea for the assembly line and mass production was born. Okay, traumatic to the Agricultural Age, because it stole manpower to fill its factories, but those factories eventually produced technology to allow those people to stay away from those farms and continue to man the factories instead. Farming, was more and more being done by machines, with fewer and fewer people. The Industrial Age also produced its shadow technologies, things that powered the Age, things that complemented the Age and things that propelled the Age forward. And thusly were more jobs created. Innovation and creativity continued to produce new jobs, but there were dark times. Particularly when the Age was first starting up, there were periods where work was unavailable for large numbers of the population, particularly in the US during the Depression.

This did not last as new ideas, new risks, new innovation spurred the economy forward and helped usher in a new age. War did not hurt either, since it spurred a particular set of innovations which did return to the populace in a variety of ways in new ideas, new cultures, new people, new opportunities for everyone involved. The Industrial Age did not come without costs. Looming budget deficits, two world wars, hundreds of millions dead, plagues were spread from continent to continent because of new forms of travel. The Industrial Age was paid for in blood, from those who work the lines, the factories, the roads, the bridges, the dams, the farms and those who lived in the cities, in the crowding, the riots, the filth, and the ever-present, black, thick, sooty smoke that stained everyone all the time. The Industrial Age wore a black boot and tracked its imprint all across the world, then and now.

Welcome to the Information Age. And like every Age before it, it creates new opportunities far too numerous to mention. But one of its specters is a familiar one, Unemployment. Where the Angel of Technology giveth, the Specter of Unemployment also follows. This is not a new development. We have known this for at least ten thousand years. But humans and their governments have very short memories. So we tend to forget that we have seen this before. Scholars of history, who warn us to remember the past, lest we be doomed to repeat it, have given us a warning that we are never able to remember, until we are in the midsts of the dilemma. We are repeating the past, just about the turn of the century, from 1900 to 1930 the economic upheavals were legendary. The world as we knew it did not make sense.

Welcome to the turn of the century; except this is the 21st century not the 20th.

If your world is not making sense, you are not alone. No one knew, per se, how this new century would start but we were certain that we would be living in interesting times. We are at a crossroad. Three paths lie before us and none of them look anything like where we are coming from, so the past is only of the most marginal of help. Perhaps a moment of prayer while we decide; toss some salt over our shoulder to keep misfortune at bay, and now we shall plunge ahead.

A Newer World Order

This is my personal opinion. I make that disclaimer so that no one will later claim I misled them. I am neither a prognosticator, nor a seer, but I do have a sense of things, particularly where they have never been seen before. I am adaptable and fearless, so the ideas I am sharing are for those who know that the world they knew before is GONE, never to return, except as an echo in a foreign country just reaching the industrial age, and are prepared to forge ahead in an uncertain world.

Rules for the Newer World Order:

1. Forget what you know. It will not help you here. It is not that knowledge isn’t valuable. Its more that thinking about the world the way it was cannot help us see the way the world needs to be. There will be plenty of people struggling to hold the world in its current form. Don’t be one of them. Those people lose. Bought a buggy whip lately?

2. Return to the basics. They are more valuable than you think. Reading will never go out of style. As a matter of fact is is now more important than ever, because there is simply so much information, that if you cannot read, it is the same as not being able to swim if you are in the ocean. Nothing will replace the written word and the skill to write, cannot be underestimated. Yes, handwriting may be heading out and typing may be the tool of the day, but the skill to write information-rich, coherent, business capable content is worth its weight in gold. If you cannot write, your future in the NRWO cannot be assured. Be numerically literate. If you are a scientist or engineer, it is likely that your numerical literacy is up to par, if not, shame, shame. But if you are not an engineer or scientist, learn as much math as you can possibly shove in your head. If you have a fear of math or a mental block, go back to school, take remedial maths until you get back to the level that failed you. Then go forward, slower, more cautiously. BUT GET THAT LITERACY! The future will have more numbers than have ever been seen before. Data will be at the heart of all things, because we will have less time, more issues and more lives will be at stake. Data-driven decision-making IS the future. If you are making decisions without data, you are likely wrong. This does not mean that intuition is dead. It’s on life-support. Do the math.

3. Increase your ability to adapt. Flexibility in the future will be your greatest asset. Do something new every week. Go someplace you have never been. Eat something completely foreign to you. Learn to speak a new language (this goes to you lazy, damn Americans, who believe they only have to know one language and that is American.) If you get the joke, bravo. The people I am talking about likely won’t. Learn a martial art, take up gardening, talk to a stranger, be kind to someone (for a lot of you, that will be a new thing, try it out), go to your PTA. Get off your couch and get involved. We are losing daylight, folks. Unless we’re all involved in everything we see and do, there will simply be more problems than we have talented people to work on them. We will need to be highly skilled and able to work at a variety of things at the drop of a hat.

4. Be fearless. Fear will only serve to make you hesitate. In the Newer World Order, he who hesitates is truly lost. We do not have time for fear or self indulgence. To quote Nike: Just Do It. And this is not an excuse to do stupid self-absorbed, narcissistic twittering stupid things. I am talking about being fearless in a just cause, in the creation of new things, in loving your family, in working with the elderly. Be fearless in the exploration of new things. Part of what is missing is our spirit of exploration, we have conquered the Earth and are sitting on our laurels. They are quite flat now, so get up and get involved.

5. Trust someone. In a world gone mad, we are the only resource we have. Find someone to trust to have your back. This is a hard one. There is so much loss. There is so much fear. There is so much pain. More than we can bear, some days. But if we are trying to do it alone, the Newer World Order will destroy you. There is too much data, too much information, too much work, too many issues, too many people, too many ideas, too much of everything for you to try and do it all yourself. Work toward your limit. The human limit of real friends that can be involved with each other and still is 150. Build your community, and get your 150 people who really could care about you and your needs. Your virtual friends don’t count toward that number, so go nuts there, if you like.

6. Be trustworthy. Give your word to someone, or some ideal and keep it. To quote Stan Lee and Jack Kirby: ‘Nuff said.

7. Age is NOT just a number. You cannot buy wisdom, but you can certainly rent it. Find someone older than you, who is looking to contribute to the world. You will find them an asset beyond measure. Ignore the outside, look to the inner person.

8. Age is just a number. In this information-dense world, our youth are plugged directly into it. They are annoyingly precocious and amazingly intelligent. Do not allow their youth to blind you to their incredible potential. Find someone younger than you, and let them teach you Our Brave New World’s technology. I guarantee they will surprise you.

9. Learn to think. This means you will have to turn off your television. This means you will have to ask questions. This means you will have to get off your couch. Thinking is your number one tool if you plan to EAT in the new world. If you are not prepared to think, then stock up on canned cat food. It will be all you can afford to eat before too long. Excuses mean nothing. And for all of you degreed folks, that paper means nothing as well. Unless you plan to use it for a place-mat for your cat food. Thinking, real thinking, critical thinking is something completely different. And no, I can’t tell you how to get it here. Do I have to do everything for you?

Back to the real question: How in the hell do I find work in this Newer World Order?

There is no easy answer to this question. Part of the answer will be for corporations to understand that for them to prosper, they will have to go back to hiring people. Simple as that. The people who are working for you will not spend any money, anywhere until they see new people coming in the door with boxes of stuff, rather than being escorted out with their personal effects. They do not feel safe. So, not feeling safe, means not spending money. Not spending money, means widgets on shelves. Widgets on shelves means no money coming in. No money coming in means employees going out. Repeat. Are you following me?

The second step is that we have to stop being complacent as a nation and start planning for the future. Not the next quarter, but for 5, 10, 20 years ahead. We are not so good at that. We had better get good at it, the stakes are frighteningly high. In my next piece we will discuss what we need to do to change ourselves for the Newer World Order.

Enhanced by Zemanta

On the Path to Enlightenment

Reasonable men adjust themselves to their environment. Unreasonable men attempt to change their environment to suit themselves. Therefore all progress is the work of unreasonable men.

— George Bernard Shaw

History is often unkind to unreasonable men. But I also know that nothing is ever accomplished by reasonable men. They are content with the status quo. They exploit and profit on the frailties of the human condition without making any changes to improve that condition. I strive to make the world a better place despite being told it was impossible. I am not a reasonable man.

–Thaddeus Howze

I was asked to give a short presentation to a group of young people who were trying to get to the straight and narrow path that a career might offer. Some of the young men had fallen from the path of education, of self improvement and had been convinced by the efforts of a dedicated few to return and try again. All previous sins forgiven, all that was required was a re-dedication to the efforts to improve their lives. I was asked to speak to them about taking some coursework in IT done at an accelerated rate in an effort to prepare them for a summer internship in the middle of next year. I became involved with mixed feelings.

Not because I do not think it is a worthy cause. On the contrary, I believe it is the worthiest of causes; without such efforts, my own redemption at an earlier point in my life would not have ever occurred and I would likely be dead, or in a state such that death might be a preferable condition. My trepidation came from having to tell these young men the truth about my occupation; or at least, as I knew it. I love what I do. I have done it now for over twenty five years; not the same job, but the same industry, information technology and communications with overlap into the publishing, banking, government, technology, game design, publishing, retail, small business and educational sectors.

How do you distill that into something someone can use? It’s impossible to write something technical that would be useful to someone who has never even done IT, so I decided to write down the things that I learned along the way; stepping stones that have to be touched on the stairway to occupational success. Thinking about these things, I decided these would be the things I would tell myself if I could meet myself on my way to my first IT job interview.

These are the fundamentals. If you aren’t careful, violation of these rules can cost you your job.

  1. Pick your battles. Sometimes you have to lose a battle to win a war. Keep your eyes on the war. Give up some things to gain everything. Outlast your enemies. Just because you did not make them your enemies did not mean they did not declare war on YOU.
  2. What got you to the top, won’t keep you there. Don’t get complacent. Stay frosty. Sharpen that saw!
  3. Previous success is just that; what you did before. It has no bearing on your present circumstance other than it appeared on your resume. Succeed in a different way this time! Innovate, create something new.
  4. Don’t be afraid to fail. Failure is a tool and a quite necessary one.
  5. You learn nothing from success. (You got it right the first time!) Failure teaches and the world’s greatest minds learned best from this harsh schoolmaster.
  6. If you work somewhere you cannot fail or failure is a punitive event, leave. They are not doing anything important there anyway.
  7. Real innovation is risky. When forced to choose between innovation and efficiency management, the long-term win is in innovation.
  8. Know the difference between being effective and being efficient. The first deals with deciding the right things to do and the other deals with doing things right.
  9. Hire the guy who came in second. He tries harder. Persistence is the real talent. Plus he will love you for taking that risk and work even harder to prove he’s worthy. It has always paid off for me.
  10. Be right. But don’t be an ass about it. Do your research; know your craft. Be right but if you make everyone hate you because of it, you won’t last long there, even if you were never wrong. Sometimes it is better to be heard than to be right.
  11. Never compromise your work. Stand up for what you know, through dint of your effort, research and intellect to be the right thing to do. Find a way to get it done. IT that is compromised serves no one well and costs everyone.
  12. When you become master of all you survey, allow your team to innovate and fail. The things they succeed with will amaze you. Empower your team. Give them the ability to make decisions on the things they work on. Less paperwork for you, more autonomy for them. Make them responsible for their work, because, well they are.
  13. Insist on diversity. Hire people smarter than you. (Don’t be afraid. They don’t want your job. If they did, they would certainly have it already.)
  14. Hire people who don’t look like you. Avoid groupthink. Give your team the power to tell you that you are wrong. This may be the second greatest thing you ever do for yourself. The first was hiring someone smart enough to tell you that you are wrong.
  15. Just because everyone says it can’t be done, does not mean they are right. Believe and do it anyway.

Those core rules are non-negotiable and will likely work for any occupation. These are my IT-related truths. They too may be applied to any occupation. Adjust as necessary.

You must learn to love new things.

  1. Every three years all that you know may become obsolete. Even if it does not, the IT industry will certainly have expanded further than expected. You have a lot of learning to do.
  2. Start your career learning about everything you can. Specialize once you know what feels good to you and you are able to do with maximum efficiency and minimum wasted effort. Be a generalist when you can, specialize if you must but maintain your versatility. Your employment may depend on you being able to do an array of things.
  3. Maintain your versatility over time by taking a variety of IT careers in a variety of business models. Business skills will become more important the further up the command structure of the corporation you want to go. Get some training or some education related to business if your mission is to conquer the executive suite.
  4. Learn the soft/social skills of how to deal with people. That is a skill set that will only grow more valuable with age.
  5. Find the time to take an assessment exam and to read books that deal with occupational growth and career design (i.e. Myers-Briggs, What Color is Your Parachute, Zen and the Art of Making a Living, the Success Principles by Jack Canfield.) These books guide you to consider your reasons for working in the occupation that you do now and how to maximize that experience, or suggest a career better suited to your skill set.
  6. Learn 10 things today that you did not know yesterday. Real facts – don’t cut corners. (3,650 new ideas every year will keep you sharp, and yes, that means you learn on the weekends, too!)
  7. Knowledge, Information and Data are not equal. Data is the raw stuff of databases and reports. In and of itself, it does nothing. When organized and understood, data can become information and has the potential to influence events and empower the person using it. Knowledge is the state that information assumes when it has helped to accomplish work. Knowledge is the ultimate expression of data in use. Knowledge is Power. Data is just data.

Know your limitations.

  1. If you don’t know your weaknesses or limitations, ask someone you trust and don’t take it too personally if they tell you something you didn’t know. Then you should take the time to know yourself better. When in doubt find an enemy and ask him. He has nothing to gain by not telling you the truth.
  2. Lose a bad habit a year, every year until you approach perfection. (You are not likely to become perfect, but people may like to be around you a lot more.)
  3. Know yourself; do work that complements your skill set. If you don’t like databases, don’t become a database administrator, even if you know how. You will resent your work and it will show.
  4. Learn your strengths and use them, they will grow even stronger. Don’t dwell on your weaknesses; you don’t plan to keep them anyway.
  5. Be introspective. Introspection is a lost art. Introspection is the art of looking into yourself to find out who you are. You cannot do it with your iPod or stereo blasting at 11. You cannot do it while you are texting your friends or playing World of Warcraft. Introspection can only be done, in silence and the harsh light of honest analysis of who you are and what you do (or have done recently). If you cannot stand a silent room or be alone with your thoughts, ask yourself why? Then do it anyway. The life you improve will be your own. If you find introspection especially difficult, learn/take a class on meditation or yoga, (or both).

No one outside of IT will really know what you do or understand it. So kudos may be slow to arrive after you pull the company fat out of the fire for the fourth time this month. IT is your family now.

  1. Love, admire, respect and support each other’s work. It may be the only acknowledgment you receive from your workplace. Cross-train so you can help each other over time and allow everyone to take a vacation sometime.
  2. Complements are rarely given to the technical masses that do the most difficult of work. Know that the bulk of the people who benefit from your work, appreciate it greatly. Why management is less able to do that is still a mystery…
  3. In some work environments, your work will barely be acknowledged; do it well anyway.
  4. Your work is your signature. When you leave your work behind, it should be a monument like the Pyramids of Giza; built to last, with vision in mind. Also see: timeless.
  5. When you become the boss of your own IT Empire, sing the praises of your team to everyone. That praise will be the greatest tool in your arsenal.
  6. Under-promise and over-deliver. Keep the masses clamoring for your support happy with this simple mantra. Learn how to budget and manage your time. Be realistic when you promise your client a delivery date. Then deliver on your promise, in spades.
  7. In IT, everything takes longer than you thought it would. Make sure you think of everything your client would want and a half a dozen things they never considered. Treat them as you would desire to be treated.
  8. Document everything you do. Keep an electronic paper trail of your labors. Hercules had only 13 impossible things to do, so he did not need to take notes. Make a to-do list every day. Keep it on a flash drive or in a wiki. It helps you determine how well you are doing, what you are doing and whether it is what you should be doing.
  9. Once a year, make a list of things you want to accomplish in that year and make sure those things get on your daily or weekly to do list. At the end of the year, check that list, if more than half are not done, where is your time being spent?

You must appear perfect in word and deed. Unrealistic? So what. Who said life was fair.

  1. Your parents are responsible for what was, you are responsible for what is. If your life was not a bed of roses, get over it. Every day is a chance to make it better. Real life is progressive and iterative (meaning it builds on the work of the day before. So it will take time to correct all that was wrong. Do it anyway.)
  2. Mastery of self must occur before you can master anything else. Self-control means control of your habits, your mind, and your body. The most powerful thing you can do for yourself is to maintain your self-control especially when everyone around you is waiting for you to lose it.
  3. If you are out of sorts; get help. There is no shame in seeking support. The IT industry can undermine your self-esteem and morale. If you are psychologically stressed, IT work can drive you to the brink in record time.
  4. If you say it, it must be so. Your word is law. Keep your word, your integrity is everything.
  5. When in doubt, say nothing. Everything you say will be remembered. When you say nothing, you appear wise and inscrutable. “Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.” No truer words were ever spoken. Remember them.
  6. The most powerful words you can say are: I don’t know. But I will find out. Become a master of research!
  7. Rest; use your vacation. Learn to walk away. Many IT types have an inability to walk away from a problem. This dogged determination is how they solve the impossible issues that end up on our desks. But it leads to stress, wear and tear on our minds and bodies over time, rendering us less effective over time. Don’t let this happen to you. Take time out. Plan for it. Then do it. You will be better for the time away. (Plus, it lets them miss you, especially if you are great at your job. Familiarity often breeds contempt.)
  8. Do things not IT related. The greatest minds in the world have often discovered that things apparently unrelated to your work can sometimes inspire you to find new ways of solving problems. Rejuvenate your mind by doing things that don’t require a keyboard and a mouse. Read a book, take up painting, do crosswords or Sudoku, learn a new language, play a musical instrument… When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. Get at least one physical hobby or sport that puts some wear and tear on your body. The sedentary life of an IT guru can add inches to your waist and pounds to you behind. Your mind is only as strong and resilient as the body that houses it. (Weight-lifting, aerobics, running, martial arts, bicycling, swimming, ultimate Frisbee, touch football, soccer, to name a few.) Get your heart rate up and keep it up for 50 minutes a day. Your life depends on it.

Love IT as the complex and dynamic craft that it is.

  1. You must enjoy the challenge of finding the straw in a needle stack. You are about to become part of the largest, most distributed neural network on the planet and possibly the greatest technological wonder ever created by humanity. Savor the moment. Done? Now get to work. With that membership, you will also have the great responsibility to ensure that whatever part of that network you build, patrol, protect, guide or create, that you do it with a vision of the future, being mindful of present circumstances and with an awareness of what has gone before.
  2. It will, if you choose it, be the hardest job you will ever love. People will tell you that what you do is not work. Do not listen. This career is as challenging as any being done anywhere:
    • IT is as challenging as medicine, because your patient will sometimes span the world, be in more than one place at a time, and have thousands of discrete elements, with millions of parts and billions of lines of code holding it all together. IT changes faster and more consistently than medicine ever has. (To be fair, medicine may soon accelerate the pace now that they are embracing IT in their diagnosis, management and coordination of information. More work for you…)
    • IT may be as hard to handle as law, because there are no precedents for every event. Each time may be the first time that circumstance has EVER been seen. What was true this morning may no longer even be relevant by sunset. Human laws develop at a geologic pace compared to the shifts that technology witnesses every year. (On average, law firms are incredibly slow when it comes to utilizing the full power of IT. I am amazed to see how many law firms are still running Windows 98 or NT.)
    • As difficult as architecture and engineering because what you build must offer stability and adaptability and is constantly under attack from threats within and without and yet must make the people using it feel safe and productive. Depending on the IT you are responsible for lives may hang in the balance. Be vigilant. IT is ever-challenging and has constantly expanding horizons.
  3. Learn all you can, all the time. If you are not a strong reader, I recommend you work on expanding your speed and your literacy, because a strong and fast reader has a decided advantage in IT. Technical publications, both in print and online are your friends. Take an 8 hour work day, once a week and do nothing but read technical journals or publications on that day. Your productivity will still be higher than anyone who doesn’t.
  4. IT will offer you impossible deadlines, put you in positions to affect the highest stakes (you have four minutes to save the world…) pair you with some of the strangest and often brilliant people, keep you working long and sometimes nonstandard hours, and ultimately provide you with immense satisfaction. IT will give you the satisfaction of creating something out of nothing whether that be a circuit board, a processor, a network, an application, a database, or a website, you will be creating something from the realm of ideas (Logos) and bringing it into the world. Create something the world needs they will pay you handsomely for it. (Sometimes, even if the world didn’t need it, you will get paid too, i.e. Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace.) Know that when your skills mature (in 5 to 7 years), you will be able to call yourself one in a million and mean it.
  5. Mastery of this craft makes you rare amongst humans. Even the most sophisticated and educated often pale when confronted by a computer on their desk and a demand to use it. And despite our recent economic misfortunes, work in this field will likely continue to expand to those who stay at the forefront of their fields of expertise.
  6. There will never be fewer computers on Earth than there are now. They may be virtual computers under unknown operating systems but the number of computers is likely to continue growing for the foreseeable future. And on the off-chance that the number of computers actually goes down, the skill level required to manage, understand and control those computers will likely be greater than ever. The only people who would have a chance of controlling or working with them would be people who already have the core fundamentals at hand. That would be you.

If you don’t love IT, you will leave it in 2-4 years for something easier, less stressful with a greater sense of acknowledgment from the common masses. Your powers will diminish somewhat but you will always remember what it was like to have your finger on the pulse of the world. Good luck. These ideas were from my private journey of twenty five years in the IT workforce. I am curious to see if anyone else sees anything familiar here. If not, share with me those things that made it possible for you to succeed. I am always looking for other great tools for my belt. About the Author: Thaddeus has an Information Technology blog at the

His email address is: